The thrill of opening a new tunnel

25 July 2018

Written by: Trevor Thompson: iFLY executive responsible for new tunnel openings

I’ve always found the whole new tunnel journey to be an exciting one, but the last few days before opening are particularly exhilarating. In just 5 days we go from an active construction site, to open for business.

At the start of the week, while the construction dust starts to settle, we begin to install all of our systems. This includes all the point of sales, check in Kiosks, TV’s and much more.  Once installation is complete, we test the systems, do final inspections on the wind tunnel equipment and ensure that everything is 100% ready to go.The next day we have the rest of our furniture, fixtures and equipment delivered and installed. This includes the tunnels appliances, lockers, flight gear and observation furniture. It’s a lot of pieces for one day, so we do try to space it out, but, as we are at the mercy of the construction progress, it doesn’t always work out like this. Sometimes it just has to happen all at once.

Opening tunnels requires a lot of flexibility. No location has the same requirements. When we can move the items into the building varies by each region and in the US, buy county. Flexibility and communication with all the companies that deliver and install the items, is vital. We simply cannot violate those laws, nor can afford a delay in opening to the public.

Throughout the construction of the iFLY building, there are inspections which basically allow the next phase to happen. For example, we cannot put the drywall up until we pass inspections for electric. If for some reason we do not pass an inspection the construction team turns their focus to that item to make the changes and re-inspect. If this occurs, the construction team must reach out to scheduled dry wall personnel and let them know that they need to be rescheduled. Once we get our final building, fire and code enforcement inspection signed off, then we can open to the public and the final leg of the marathon begins. (Pic show iFLY Queenstown, New Zealand in the final week before opening)

Getting our fresh, newly built tunnel to appear as though construction has been completed for months actually occurs in 24 hours after receiving what is called our temporary certificate of occupancy (TCO). This is when the magic happens! The entire space gets a final clean to remove any hint of the work that has happened, all spaces get stocked, staged and ready for our first guests. This is the final push to move into and occupy the facility. We work very hard to ensure we are perfect and can put our best foot forward to welcome our guests. 

24 hours later, the time has come to accept our 1st guests and the opening team can breathe a bit easier, but the work is not quite over.  We watch carefully for anything that is not 100% ready to welcome our guests, fix anything that needs fixing at the time and take notes of items that need to be addressed by construction later. If, within about 2 hours after opening we deem the building is 100% ready, then we move on to the next tunnel opening.

What a great job!